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»re:member« does curious things. The fourth ›official‹ solo album by Ólafur Arnalds takes the listener through varied moods and feelings, through different musical landscapes. You can hear every facet of his work – the composition, the soundtracks, the pop – bursting through, flowering. When the track unfold opens with what sounds like a stream skittering across rocks, it seems apt, because »re:member« keeps on moving, never tiring or letting the listener get tired. »re:member« is an album you can’t forget, because every time you hear it something new and wholly unexpected emerges. »This is my breaking out-of-a-shell album«, Arnalds says. »This is me taking the raw influences that I have from all these different musical genres and not filtering them. I always have my hands in many different projects at once, and I feel that this album represents that.«
Part of the reason for the eventual sound of »re:member« stemmed not from Arnalds' mental drive, but physical exigency. At the heart of the album are Arnalds’ self-devised Stratus Pianos – two self-playing, semi-generative player pianos, triggered by a central piano which he plays – an invention born of necessity rather than experimentation. »I got into a little accident and I had nerve damage in my hand,« he says. »I couldn't play the piano for a year, and I wasn't sure if I would ever be able to play again. It was completely petrifying.« With his friend Halldór Eldjárn, Arnalds set about developing the Stratus system: software that sends instructions to two pianos, »and the two become one and play together«. Arnalds sets the values that the software feeds to the pianos – the rhythm, the tempo – and those are triggered by chords or notes he plays.
Arnalds' album evolved under the influence of a number of collaborators – friends from different areas of music that came by his studio in Reykjavík and left a lasting mark on the album. One of them was hip-hop producer Bngerboy, who's innovative sound caught Arnalds' ear and influenced the direction of the album. The title of the album – and its lead single – refers in a way to the act of creation. »›re:member‹ is about becoming a member of yourself again which I feel my journey for this album was, very much so. I was discovering all these different sides of myself, my creativity, my taste and interests.« Nothing he does is discrete or partitioned off – be it soundtracks like his BAFTA-winning score for Broadchurch, reinterpretations of classical music such as ›The Chopin Project‹ with Alice Sara Ott, collaborations such as ›Island Songs‹, in which he travelled around to seven different Icelandic locations, collaborating with different artists, to make a song and video from each place. Instead, everything is part of a greater whole.
Nevertheless, those who have loved Arnalds' music over the last 10 years need not be shocked. »re:member« is still distinctively Arnaldian, still forged of that alloy of melody and texture that has always been the key part of his art, where composition and production go hand in hand. »Sound and melody are completely equal,« he says. »Melody doesn’t exist without sound. It sounds simple when you say it out loud, but it isn’t that obvious. Composers often write with a pencil on paper, and at that point the melody is just an idea.«
(Sonic Boom event & artist service GmbH, München)